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Marines, ICDC open new joint center

29 May 2004 | Sgt. Jose L. Garcia

Marines from 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment took another step closer to turning over security responsibilities of this western Iraqi region to the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.

Marines and ICDC soldiers established a new Joint Coordination Center here.

The center will allow Marines and ICDC soldiers to get more integrated and aquatinted with each other, according to Capt. Douglas D. Downey, commander for Company G.  More importantly, it demonstrates the Iraqis ability to begin defending themselves.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” explained Downey, a 31-year-old from Reading, Pa. “Every day it gets better, improves and gets more military structure.”

The center gives Iraqi leaders an insight to the missions at hand, managing future operations, communications with their own soldiers and intelligence gathering for future operations.

“The hardest part is communication,” said 1st Lt. Allen R. McBroom, a platoon commander with the battalion’s Weapon’s Company.  “When there’s no interpreters around, it makes it hard.”

Time is crucial whenever help is needed and getting the ICDC out there is complicated at times, said Allen, a 30-year-old from Lubbock, Texas.  Iraqi leaders are still learning crucial steps to assist a unit in need, such as blocking off roads and calling support.

Marines, in the meantime, are taking the opportunity to lead their Iraqi counterparts by their own example.  Mostly, Marines are trying to instill a sense of unit pride and discipline among the Iraqis through routine military duties such as formations, physical training and other basic military fundamentals.

“They imitate everything we do,” Allen said. “We have to lead by example and show professionalism.”

The plan, according to Allen, is to eventually turn over more and more of the operation of the JCC to the Iraqis, letting them assume greater control of their area of operations. 

“They will coordinate and work as a cohesive unit to accomplish the mission or fix the situation at hand and be a self-sustained unit,” he said.

Even now, ICDC soldiers are getting more involved with missions and future operations.  There are language barriers, but common purpose is aiding in hurdling that obstacle.

“It’s nice to do more between the ICDC and the Marines,” said Lt. Col. Ali Saleh Jassem, the communications officer for the Iraqi 503rd Battalion, “It would help a lot if we spoke the same language, but we still understand each other.”

Marines find reason to be hopeful.  The fact the Iraqi soldiers are stepping up to the challenge and wanting to learn is a sign that Iraqis will soon be able to completely assume security responsibilities.

“I see a lot of good coming out of this,” Allen said. “The young kids are very excited and ready to participate.”